University of Nebraska Medical Center

To your health!

It was a Monday morning, first class period of summer session, first time for complete remote delivery of the course.

The first-year physical therapy students, each sitting in their homes, raised their mugs toward computer screens.

“To your health!” came the toast from Professor Pat Hageman, Ph.D., from her square in the Zoom grid.

Dr. Hageman starts every class period with a toast or note of cheer. “It’s a tradition in my course,” she said. “Usually the toast is ‘to your health,’ which has taken on new meaning with COVID-19.”

According to Dr. Hageman, her ritual of the toast began decades ago as a way to celebrate gratitude for being present for the day and to promote goodwill. Students are keenly aware her class period starts when she “cracks the can” of her favorite diet cola to deliver her toast.

Dr. Hageman said, “Between the flood of last year and now COVID-19, the students’ stories have so touched me, as so many suffer with a major hardship. Their positive responsiveness to rapid change is about the most inspiring thing ever. The symbolism of the raising of their mugs just says it all.”

It seems fitting that the familiar “toast” ritual continues, even with remote delivery. A DPT 1 student recently thanked Dr. Hageman for “being upbeat on an early Monday morning.”

Perhaps some traditions are meant to be timeless.

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